LABOR TO SET SOME FAIRNESS IN ROAD TOLLS
Ryan Park MP
Wednesday March 22 2016
The NSW Opposition today introduces new legislation that requires a public interest test to be met before road tolls can be raised.
The Roads Amendment (Transparent Tolling Agreements) Bill 2015 will see the independent pricing regulator (IPART) approve all future toll agreements.
The bill will ensure future contracts do not allow price rises that are above the cost of living and carry a requirement that the public interest is not harmed.
It would also require the Auditor-General to review pre-existing road toll contracts.
The Baird Government has moved away from competitive bidding to a model of direct negotiation with the private sector.
For example, there was no competitive process involved in the Northconnex project which was directly negotiated between the NSW Government and Transurban.
The re-introduction of tolls onto the M4 after a period of six years was done without any public consultation. The toll concession on the M5 is due to end in 2026 yet media reports indicate that it could be extended until 2060 to help pay for WestConnex.
Motorists and motoring groups say there is no methodology or information published to demonstrate that tolling agreements are meeting the public interest and providing good value.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park
“NSW motorists are being kept in the dark over road tolls when they deserve to know why they are paying some of the highest tolls in the country.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out in tolls every year but no one knows how they are set and whether they are delivering value for money for the taxpayer.
“Labor’s plan will finally bring some accountability and fairness to the process of setting tolls.
“The people who pay the tolls do not have a seat at the negotiating table and have no idea if they are getting a good deal – this legislation will rectify that.”